When the New York Mets laid out their plans for the 2016 season, it was pretty safe to assume that right-handed pitcher Robert Gsellman was not part of them. After all, the rotation was stacked and the team was primed to get back to the World Series. After being drafted in the 13th round of the 2011 draft, Gsellman had impressed and certainly rose quickly through the minor leagues, but it didn’t seem as if his services would be needed this year.
Gsellman made quick work of his time back in Binghamton, posting a 2.71 ERA through 66.1 innings. Perhaps more encouraging was his WHIP decreasing to 1.085. His new pitch, the famed “Warthen slider,” assisted his cause and likened him to the other long-haired, power pitchers on the major league staff he would soon join. He was promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas on June 8th. He would not be as successful in Sin City, posting a 5.73 ERA and 1.479 WHIP in his time there.
Meanwhile in Flushing, the Mets’ season was not going according to plan. Injuries were mounting, having already lost Matt Harvey to surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. Jacob DeGrom and Stephen Matz were somewhat in limbo, cobbling together good outings while treating their own eventual season ending injuries. Matz was placed on the disabled list on August 22nd, leaving Jon Niese to pitch the following day against the St. Louis Cardinals. Gsellman was called up from Trple-A to replace him.
Niese, who had seemingly struggled through the end of both of his tenures with the Mets, only lasted four batters, walking two and allowing an RBI single before coming out of the game with an apparent knee-injury. Enter Gsellman. Pitching out of the bullpen for the first time in his professional career, he threw 75 pitches over 3 ⅔ innings, striking out 2 and walking 3 batters. The bullpen would carry the rest of the game, assisted by strong performances from Jose Reyes, Yoenis Cespedes, and Asdrubal Cabrera, on to a 7-4 win. Niese would be placed on the disabled list and shelved for the rest of the year, relieving already stressed Mets fans who worried about relying on him during a Wild Card chase.
So here is Gsellman, not only in the majors but also being counted on to help his team reach the postseason for the second consecutive year. Easy, right? He went on to pitch in eight games through the end of regular season, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.42 ERA. His WHIP remained average, ending the year at 1.276 - a fraction away from his career average. Most surprising might be his FIP, which showed strong at 2.63. This is all taken of course with the caveat of having a very small sample size. Nevertheless, Gsellman was invaluable to the New York Mets down the stretch leading into their early Wild Card exit, balancing a rotation that had been decimated by injury.
Gsellman’s strong play has forced him into the conversation for the starting rotation in 2017. Steamer projects him having a 4.21 ERA, and a 4.22 FIP, which definitely represents a regression to the mean. Regardless, with rehabbing pitcher Zack Wheeler not a lock for the Opening Day roster, or even a starting position, Gsellman may continue to forge his way into a loaded rotation and continue his success in 2017.